Friday, March 27, 2015

Mantles, Spaghetti Sauce and Religious Freedom

I have deliberated and pondered for way too many days about what to write this week….I have wanted to share with you everything from the profoundly spiritual to some tip or idea or strategy that deals with something that is essential or life changing or helpful.  Yet nothing comes.

I thought about sharing with you necessary things like how to decorate a mantle or how to make the best spaghetti sauce ever or vent about ‘religious freedom’!!  No one wants to hear me rant and on the one hand, mantles and spaghetti sauce are things that sound very much like trivial first world issues….on the other hand….we live in a first world country and need to know such things, right?? 

There is nothing wrong with making your mantle pleasing to the eye…is there?  Surely you have struggled with what to put up there…or in what position, right?  Did you know that at Pier 1 we are taught to display in triangles?  Yep!  Simple trick!!  Look at the photo of our mantle.  Do you see the triangle?? Do you see the difference between the two pictures?  (Sounds like something a Highlander Highlights magazine would ask!!) Which arrangement do you think looks the best?
 




Take a look at our buffet…do you see how the mirror works with the lamps and the topiary to give balance and a triangle?  Typically, I do not need (or love) everything to be symmetrical…but, as you can see, I was quite symmetrical on this buffet….unlike the mantle….where I was asymmetrical.

 
Now, wasn’t that useful? Ha!!

About the spaghetti sauce.  There certainly is nothing wrong with me wanting to share with you how to make the absolutely best spaghetti sauce ever….so good in fact, that no one in your family will ever, and I mean EVER want to order spaghetti at a restaurant ever again….it’s that good!!  So….here’s the recipe…yummmm…let it simmer all day and enjoy!!  (Please make it….you won’t be sorry!!)  (Picture me getting up, going in to the kitchen to get the worn out, torn, stained recipe card).

OK G-R-E-A-T!!!  I CANNOT FIND THE RECIPE!!  What in the world??  (Do you hear me yelling at myself??)  Now what am I going to do?  I guess I am going to need to organize my kitchen so I can find it, that’s what!!  Oh, well…on to the next thing….I will give you the spaghetti recipe another day.

I also wanted to rant and rave about the new “religious freedom” bill that was just passed in to law this week in our state.  There have been many arguments and emotions surrounding the debate…much of them focusing on the “rights” a person has to refuse to do business with anyone who does not believe the same way they do.  Now, I am very aware that the law is much more than that….and perhaps it is a good one….honestly I don’t know because I have not read the entire law. 

What I do know is that the Christian community is called to love.  Love our neighbor, love the homosexual, love the Muslim, love the prostitute, love the gossiper, love the lost.  What does love look like to the lost world?  Why would I refuse to sell something in my store to someone who is gay yet have no problem selling to someone who is bitter or unforgiving or a complainer?

Oh my, what to write about?  So….instead of planning a great post….you got me regurgitating what was on my mind!  Random things.  Significant?  Helpful? 

Blessings to you my friends!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

First World Problems

Oh the dilemmas we face living in a first world country!  Such trauma and frustration it can bring to our lives!!

Firstly (that is what Keith Urban would say re: American Idol), is there really any such thing as a “first world county”??  Sure, we know about “third world” countries…but is it correct for me to assume there are also “first world” or even “second world” countries?

Secondly, if I wanted to know if there was such a thing as a first world country….which search engine would I use?  Google?  Web Crawler?  Decisions, decisions we first world-ers have to make.

Thirdly (and this will be the last of the ‘ly’s’ because my list is likely to be long) I am sitting in Panera right now because my Internet provider at home will not allow me to send emails…so I have to go elsewhere to send.  Of all things!!  Grrrr....technology!

More first world troubles...
  • Where should my friend and I go to lunch today?  What shoes do I wear to meet said friend? 
  • I am off of work today and I'd love to get a pedicure!  It has been months and months since I had one and it sure would be fun.  Or should I wait until I go to Tennessee in a few weeks and can actually wear flip-flops?
  • One cup of coffee or two?   Or should I get tea?
  • Necklace or scarf?  Does the scarf accentuate my wrinkly neck?
  • Sweater or jacket?  What if it rains?
  • Bottled purified water or bottled spring water?
  • Pay by credit or by debit?
  • Burger or sandwich?  Fries or chips?
  • Dish or cable?
  • Ordering on line is great except that I have to get up to get my credit card.
  • I want to turn off the TV and go to sleep but the remote fell off of the bed and is out of my reach.
  • As I sit here in Panera my computer starts talking....loudly....spitting out some news or something.  Be quiet computer!!  Why are you talking??  Stop embarrassing me!
  • My shampoo and conditioner never run out at the same time.

I have to go to the bathroom right now because I drank way too much of Panera's tea but that means I have to take my computer and Bible and notebook and tea and purse and bag that carries said computer and Bible and notebook...because I am afraid someone might take them....which is sad....except that I would like for them to take my Bible.  BUT taking it all in to the bathroom is way too much trouble...but I don't want to wet my pants before I go to lunch with said friend.

These are some of the many predicaments we find ourselves in…first world predicaments…and the list could go on and on.

There are also first world church pickles (and I don’t mean the kind you eat)!  Wouldn't that be a fun list to make??!!

The next time we find ourselves in predicaments, pickles, dilemmas, or whatever you want to call it….let’s stop and pray for those who would do anything for shampoo, money, coffee, a shower, lunch, clothing, a bathroom, a computer, etc. 
I hope you heard my sarcasm..You get the message.  Lets live with gratitude.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Spinning Your Wheels


Do you ever feel like you are spinning your ministry wheels in a mud pit? Maybe the church staff and deacons, being led by the Holy Spirit, have presented a change to the church body only to have one or two people throw up opposition to the change. This leads to the stalling of the change and can often lead to discouragement on the behalf of the leadership of the church.

After 30 plus years in the ministry, I have seen my husband and the leadership of the churches where we have serve get stuck in the ministry mud.  One thing I know about my husband is that he prays diligently for God’s guidance and direction for the church.  He never presents an idea before asking others to pray with him.  If even one person who is praying with my husband disagrees, Ricky will lay the idea aside for a while.  However, if the idea is met with favoritism after much prayer, my husband will take the idea to the deacon body for their advice and prayers.  After all the soul searching is done and if all are in agreement, the idea is then presented to the church.  Many times the body is asked to pray about the idea for a month before a final decision is made.

What really amazes me is the number of people who never show up for business meetings and who are surprised when a new idea is implemented in the life of the church.  It is those individuals who usually start the gripping, nay-saying, and working the phone lines.  This is when the wheels of ministry start getting stuck in the mud and I get frustrated.

I am a person who likes to see things happening.  I want to see people engaging in true worship.  I want to see people from all walks of life, socioeconomic backgrounds and of all nationalities saved.  I desire to do whatever it takes without “watering down the gospel” to get lost people in the church.  This approach takes a lot of prayer and guidance from the Holy Spirit. 

Just like when a car gets bogged down in the mud and starts spinning its wheels, sometime the church can get stuck in the mud, spinning their ministry wheels, and eventually give up.  However, instead of giving up, we should work hard to overcome the obstacles before us.  We should search for a solution to the problem, work together to get out of the mud, and get on with ministry.



Monday, March 16, 2015

Convicted


At one time or another most of us has been hurt by people in our church. In some way or another their actions or motives have led to betrayal, disappointment, and let’s be honest, anger.  These individuals feel they have a right of entitlement to their own selfish desires. To be quite honest, my very first carnal instinct is to slap the person and then bathe my wounded soul in chocolate.  Of course, I would never slap someone (mentally, yes), but I have drowned myself in the chocolate.

During my quiet time a few days ago, I became convicted by the Holy Spirit on this very issue on something that had happened years ago but that I had buriedThen the Holy Spirit brought to mind a situation and a person.  “Wait, Lord! You know this person and what they did. You can’t possibly want me to let it go and forgive them.”

I just sat there in my comfortable chair and let my mind drift back to the past.  To this day I still remember this lay person’s scheming and plotting as they “were caring for the church.”  However, there was no evidence of a Christ-like spirit in that person.  They hurt not only the church staff and their families, the church family but also the reputation of the church.  The last contact I had with this person was eerie.  I looked directly into their eyes and saw a menacing darkness like I had never seen before.  Girls, it frightened me.

Over the years I have carried that last scene in my mind.  I have harbored bitterness toward that person.  Trust me, I took my mom’s words to heart and have tried hard to find something to like about the person.  I just can’t.  However, I do know the Savior loves this person so I must try to love them too.

So as I write my confession to you, I ask that you pray that I can leave the past in the past.  I want to be able to forgive this person and get rid of the bitterness.  I want to be able one day to tell the Lord, “yes Father, I forgave this person through your grace.”


Friday, March 13, 2015

What A Difference Prayer Makes

Ladies, just last week I was reminded of the amazing power of prayer. Wow! Our God is so awesome!!

There was a situation that came about, and I knew that I desperately needed to call upon the Lord as an intercessor for an individual. This situation so burdened my heart that I literally had trouble sleeping because it was so heavy on my mind; I even dreamed about it! It would not leave my mind.

Also, I don’t know how often you have experienced this, but sometimes when the Lord burdens your heart to pray for something, the words just don’t come. I am so thankful that when we don’t’ know what to pray or even how to pray, the Holy Spirit takes our deepest longings and miraculously interprets what we would like to say, and intercedes for us to God. What a blessing!

As I was laboring in prayer, the Holy Spirit brought to my mind Scriptures that I was able to use in my prayers as I talked with God:

I was reminded according to Mark 11:24, that the things we ask for, if we believe that we have received them, they will be granted to us. He gives us faith to believe!

I was reminded that according to Psalm 103:19, God is sovereign over all things, and the situation I was praying about never caught Him off guard. He is in control of all things!

I was reminded as I read the story of Jesus healing a leper in Mark 1:40-45 that our compassionate Savior can immediately speak to a situation and change the outcome. He is able!

I was reminded that when petitions go up to God for help, Psalm 28: 2, 6 assures me that our cries are not ignored; He hears the voice of our supplications. He is attentive to our needs!

I was reminded by the prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 32: 17, 27 that as assuredly as the Lord has made the heavens and the earth by His great power, then there is absolutely nothing too difficult for Him to accomplish. He can do the impossible!

As I prayed over my situation, and as you pray over your situations, know and be confident that we have a Father in heaven who hears when we call on Him, and we can trust Him in everything! The psalmist encourages us to “pour out our heart before Him” (Psalm 62:8) because He is a refuge for us in every trial and tribulation, as we pray for ourselves AND as we intercede on behalf of others. Even if He does not answer right away, He can give peace, contentment, and comfort while we are waiting on Him, trusting and preparing to accept whatever answer He chooses to give.

Circumstances may not immediately change as we pray, but our attitudes surely will! What a difference prayer makes!

Monday, March 9, 2015

A Child’s Question: Is There A “Good” Sin?

My sisters, do you teach children at church? Of course, many of you do, and sometimes they can surprise and amuse you with some of the questions that they ask, or even in the way that they uniquely understand a Biblical concept.

I have worked with children for over 20 years, and have taught them over 10 years at the current church where we serve. But one recent Sunday, I got a question from an 8 year-old that caught me by surprise and made me chuckle (on the inside). Her question was: “Isn’t there such a thing as a good sin?”

I wanted to immediately exclaim, “No, no, and a thousand times, no!!!” But I smiled at her and calmly and patiently tried to reason with her, from the Bible, that God does not like sin, and ALL sin is bad! I shared the Gospel with her and explained why God’s Son had to die on the cross to pay for our sins (she seems to have a “head” knowledge of salvation, but only the Holy Spirit knows, and I will continue to talk to her about our Savior).

Even with the mindset of some adults, there are probably those who think, like my young student, that maybe there is such a thing as a “good sin”. Also, how many of us have ever tried to justify (at least in our own mind) that some sins God only winks at, and others He takes very seriously? If we are not careful, we can all have our own internal judgment systems, where we classify sins as good or bad or maybe somewhere in between. Again, as I told this precious child, ALL SIN IS BAD!

Here are a few examples of when a “good” thing can become a sinful thing:

An innocent conversation with a friend can easily turn into gossip and masquerade as a prayer session.

Eating something we love can easily turn into stuffing ourselves to the point of gluttony and we convince ourselves that we are “satisfying a harmless craving” for our favorite food.

Having a daily schedule filled to the brim with charitable activities on our “to do” list can easily turn into an excuse for not spending time with the Lord in Bible reading and prayer.

The list could go on……………… In the few examples above, some might go so far as to think that no sin has been committed, and the end result is permissible.

A very simple definition of sin from a Bible dictionary is: “Lawlessness or transgression of God’s will, either by omitting to do what God’s Law requires or by doing what it forbids. The transgression can occur in thought, word, or deed.” Hence, ALL sin is bad since it is against God.

Just in case we ever forget how very serious sin is, may we gaze upon the cross and be reminded of the ugliness of sin, no matter what form it comes in. It cost our Precious Savior His very life to pay a debt that we owed, but could never pay!

“He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” 1 Peter 2:24

Friday, March 6, 2015

Our Daughter

Happy Early Birthday to our daughter whose birthday is on Pi Day, which is very appropriate for her since she is a Math Teacher.  (March 14th)